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Manitoba opposes Potash takeover: Wall

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Manitoba has joined Alberta and Quebec in opposing the takeover of Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc. (POT-T) by Australia's BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP-N), Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said Friday.

Speaking to a Bay Street crowd at a lunch in downtown Toronto, Wall said he had just spoken to Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, who supported his view that the sale would be bad for Canada.

In his speech, Wall reiterated his position that Ottawa can turn down the deal while maintaining Canada's position as a country that is still open to foreign investment.

"Canada can say 'no' and still be a strong, open free-trade economy," he said.  Wall told reporters after his speech that he has not decided yet whether to go to Ottawa for a last-minute pitch to the federal government, which will make the final decision next week whether to allow the takeover.

He said he did not want to "unnecessarily jam things up with last-minute meetings" and that the Investment Canada process has to be respected.

Wall said he thinks many provinces would like to see a national discussion of the Investment Canada process "not to stop takeovers, not to stop foreign direct investment, but to make sure our process can accommodate a deal like this."

He said he saw no third option, other than an outright acceptance or rejection of the takeover by Ottawa. There is no compromise that would overcome the "strategic concerns" about a key resource falling into foreign hands, he said.

If Ottawa gives the nod to the takeover "we will have to look at all of our options" to make sure Saskatchewan's royalty revenue from potash is maintained, Wall said.

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